More Anti-Israel Bias at the New York Times

The New York Times displays every day in its reporting, in its columns, and in its editorials, its bias against Israel. Ira Stoll takes on some subtler examples of this, in the choice of pejorative adjectives and adverbs the Times deploys in describing Israel but refrains from using when describing Hamas. You can find his piece here: “Jewish Leader Slams New York Times for ‘Dreadful’ Bias as Paper Faults ‘Ferocious’ Israel, ‘Rabidly Partisan’ Adelson,” by Ira Stoll, Algemeiner, June 28, 2024:

For a telltale indicator of New York Times bias, keep an eye on the adjectives and adverbs.

Two recent front-page Times articles offer examples of this particular problem skewing the coverage.

Times article purporting to show how Israelis “feel little sympathy” for Gazans suffering includes the line, “Michael Zigdon, who operates a small food shack in Netivot’s rundown market and had employed two men from Gaza until the attack, expressed little sympathy for Gazans, who have endured a ferocious Israeli military onslaught for the past eight months.”

The reporter notes that Zigdon had hired two workers from Gaza — hardly an indication of someone with “little sympathy” for the people of Gaza.  After the October 7 attack, he may have feared that the two Gazan workers he had been trying to help by giving them work at salaries many times greater than what they could earn in Gaza, had been providing Hamas with useful information as to possible targets inside Israel. All the employees from Gaza working in Israel were discharged on October 8.

The “ferocious” adjective gets hurled by the Times a second time in the same article, which goes on, in case any reader failed to absorb the point the first time, to say that “the death toll in Gaza has spiraled to at least 37,000 since Israel began its ferocious offensive.”

The Israeli self-defense operation gets described by the Times as “ferocious,” [“a ferocious Israeli military onslaught”] while the Hamas attack of Oct. 7 earns no such label. My Webster’s Second defines ferocious as “having or exhibiting ferocity, cruelty, savagery, etc.; violently cruel.” Ferocity is defined as coming from the Latin root ferus, meaning wild, “as the ferocity of barbarians.

That qualifies as slander of Israel, opinion masquerading as New York Times news writing. If the Times news writers and editors want to accuse Israel of waging barbaric, savage, wild, violently cruel warfare against Gazans, they are welcome to make a factual case for that. I think they’d have a hard time of it, given all the evidence about the care that Israel has used to limit noncombatant casualties. But making the accusation in a backhanded, backdoor way by sprinkling tendentious adjectives into news articles is a kind of deception so subtle that a lot of Times readers might not even notice it.

Readers’ eyes skim over the words; they see the adjective “ferocious” twice and think nothing of it, but the word’s meaning has entered their minds nonetheless. Israel’s military onslaught is thus described, with the single adjective “ferocious,” as “having or exhibiting ferocity, cruelty, savagery, etc; violently cruel.”

What do you think? Has Israel’s onslaught in Gaza displayed “ferocity, cruelty, savagery”? No, it has not. Israel has made colossal efforts to minimize civilian casualties. To this end, by March it had dropped nine million leaflets, sent 16 million text messages, made 15 million robocalls and 100,000 personal calls, all to warn civilians to leave cities or areas or neighborhoods about to be targeted, and the same warnings were given to civilians living or working in buildings that contained Hamas operatives, weapons, and command-and-control centers. This is not “ferocity, cruelty, savagery.” In fact, British Colonel Richard Kemp has described the IDF as “the most moral army in the word,” and West Point Professor John Spencer has described the IDF in similar terms, writing that “in my long career studying and advising on urban warfare for the U.S. military, I’ve never known an army to take such measures to attend to the enemy’s civilian population, especially while simultaneously combating the enemy in the very same buildings. In fact, by my analysis, Israel has implemented more precautions to prevent civilian harm than any military in history—above and beyond what international law requires and more than the U.S. did in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Perhaps the Times’ writers will keep that in mind before they next decide to describe the IDF’s war against Hamas as “ferocious.”



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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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